mar 142017

PEN International interview series marks International Women’s Day 2017

8 March 2017

‘It is the extraordinary legacy of women writers and journalists that inspire us at PEN to continue fighting the many barriers women writers still face. Whether that is censorship in the form of physical or emotional violence, a society that stereotypes and marginalizes them, or a publishing industry that still sees women earning less, publishing less, and being reviewed less than their male peers. This is a struggle that affects us all because everyone needs the stories, voices, and craft women writers have always offered – despite a huge number of challenges – in such abundance. The stories, rhythms, and power of women writers have created new worlds, both real and fictional, in which readers can lose and find themselves, glean inspiration to live more visibly and inhabit women’s knowledge.

PEN International is honoured to present this interview series marking International Women’s Day 2017 as we speak to 3 women writers. Their individual contributions to the field are inspiring as each one has experienced trials and difficulties simply because they are women.’

Jennifer Clement

President, PEN International



Elif Shafak

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

I started writing at a very early age, when I was eight years old. Not because I wanted to be a novelist, I didn’t even know that was a possibility. It was because I was a lonely child. I was an only child raised by a single mother and books opened new and undiscovered worlds to me. I loved those worlds. The decision to be a writer came around the time I was 18, which is when I started writing purposefully. So first came the love of books and then the decision to be a writer.

How have your experiences as a woman and your experiences as a writer collided?

In Turkey the literary world might seem very liberal, well-educated and westernised at first glance. But when you scratch the surface it’s the same as the rest of Turkish society. In Turkey if you’re a male writer you are first and foremost known as a writer but if you are a woman writer, first and foremost you are woman and then a writer. There is this gender lens in Turkish society that everything is seen through. Women writers are recognised when they’re much older, but until then as a woman writer you are constantly belittled, ridiculed and looked down upon. It’s much harder for women writers, journalists, poets, academics to get the same recognition as their male counterparts.

Has that been your experience?

Yes, that has been my experience. I was very young, 22, when my first collection of stories was published, and 23 when I published my first novel and I was mocked and ridiculed constantly. One of the biggest lesson I learned as a writer was around the time that The Bastard of Istanbul was published. I was attacked by the elite of Turkey’s society, accused of being a traitor because I talked about the Armenian genocide. I understood then that elite of Turkey and the people of Turkey were very different. I came to discover that my book was being read by people from very diverse backgrounds. The book gained popularity through word of mouth rather than a marketing campaign. Someone would read it and give it to a friend, who would give it to their aunt who would give it to their son who would give it to their colleague – people were sharing my book. This was so inspiring to me at a time when I was being attacked by the political and literary elite. And the positive feedback and love I received from the readers was amazing. I am not an elitists’ writer, I am reader’s writer and through the art of storytelling I feel connected to readers, which is very important to me.

A lot of women writers that PEN has worked with have faced threats of violence or experienced violence, which is another form of censorship. How do gender roles as perceived in society impact the topics you feel you can write about and what the characters in your books can do? In other words, do you feel that gender roles can restrict writers and what they write about?

I think all of us in our daily lives are reduced to certain roles and identities no matter where we are in the world. But the beauty of fiction and art of story-telling is that you can be multiple people. I have always defended multiplicity; as a writer I have multiple personalities. I believe that a writer’s pen must be bisexual, multi-faceted. It is a writer’s job to ask the difficult questions, to challenge stereotypes and taboos, not to give answers, readers have to arrive at those answers themselves. The voices of minority communities and the ‘other’ always play a big role in my writing. I want to give a voice to people whose voices have been silenced. Because I have felt like the other so many times in my own life, including in my own motherland. I have a constant flow of empathy towards the other, both past and present. For me fiction is not necessarily autobiographical, I find that boring. What is much more intriguing is to occupy a different space, to be someone else. That is truly transcendental, that is real freedom.

Who was the first female character that you read that really inspired you and why?

There are so many because my reading has always been really eclectic. Growing up I read lots of Turkish books, but I also read lots of English, Russian and Spanish literature and all of these had a big impact on me.

When I was younger I loved Little Women and the character of Jo really spoke to me. Over time I discovered Jane Austen and George Elliot and I loved reading Gogol and Dostoevsky. And I vividly remember the first time I read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, it really blew me away.

Does story-telling have the power to challenge social injustice?

Absolutely. I think storytelling has the power to open up an inner space in all of us, and that space is so neglected in our lives. For example in Turkey I have readers from all backgrounds – leftists, secularists, Turks, Kurds, Jews, Greeks and people from very conservative backgrounds and women who wear the hijab. And many of us feel so restrained by different parts of our identity, particularly publically. But I have spoken to scores of readers from all these backgrounds who say to me that they cried when a gay character or an Armenian character in my books were hurt. So there’s this real connection with the ‘other’ through my novels even if they don’t profess similar views in public. I think that when we are alone and we can retreat into our inner space we become a little more open minded and a little more ready to empathise with stories that we may not necessarily recognise as our own.

But when we are in the company of others, when we are in groups or communities we become more closed, more ready to subscribe to the group narrative. Art, in whatever form it takes, opens up inner spaces in all of us and can ultimately change us.

What book should every girl read?

I think every girl should read constantly. Our favourite books should change over time. But the act of reading should be continuous, never ending, particularly if you want to be or are a writer.



Grace Mutandwa

When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

I didn’t wake up one day and say, ‘Oh yes I want to be a writer.’ What I do remember is that in junior school I wrote the most creative compositions in class and it made me happy. I think from a very early age if I was not reading I liked writing stories. Going into journalism just seemed like the most normal thing for me and eventually writing a novel and contributing to various books just felt very comfortable. I cannot put a place and date to the full realisation that I wanted to be a writer because all I know is that it is something I just slid into and I felt at home.

How have your experiences as a woman and your experiences as a writer collided?

I am confident in so many ways but as a woman and a writer sometimes I am not always sure that the story I have to tell has a readership. I battle with some of the stories inside me because I wonder if they are not “too woman” or “too revealing of my soul”. I am at ease with my womanhood but struggle with how some of the women around me would relate to the stories I have locked up inside my heart and head. I find that I judge and criticise myself more harshly than I should and that makes me falter at times. I am a woman with an opinion and not scared to put it in the public domain and as a writer that fulfils me but does not necessarily satisfy some readers who believe truth should be reshaped or avoided in writing. As a woman what I write is analysed and criticised more by fellow women and ironically embraced by men. I have to work three times harder than male writers to prove that I can write stories that resonate with everyday life. I have to withstand the withering attacks of male privilege that seek to trivialise women’s issues.

A lot of women writers for whom we have worked have faced threats of violence or experienced violence, which is another form of censorship. How do gender roles as perceived in society impact the topics you feel you can write about and what the characters in your books can do? In other words, do you feel that gender roles can restrict writers and what they write about?

I am a non-conformist. I am daring and curious. I am sensitive towards minority rights and sometimes I feel drawn to write more about issues that affect those whose rights are threatened. As a newspaper columnist I have written about gay rights and received death and “corrective rape” threats and insults via email but it has not scared me off speaking up about gay rights. I am currently working on a book whose main protagonist is a lesbian and I am quite certain when the book is eventually out I will be subjected to all sorts of threats and insults but I am too old to care and I believe in standing up for something. Women writers who are ambivalent about how they might be perceived if they don’t restrict themselves to the “nice and tame” roles demanded by patriarchy will most certainly have problems getting their characters to mimic real life. We live in a beautiful but dangerous, cruel, dirty, violent and sexually explosive world where things are not always black or white – there are grey areas and splashes of bold colour too. I find writing exciting and stimulating when I am true to myself and when I address the world frankly.

Who was the first female character that you read that really inspired you and why?

The late Florence Onyebuchi “Buchi” Emecheta in her autobiography Head Above Water inspired and motivated me to be a writer. Her character spoke to the sacrifices black African women have to make in foreign lands while struggling to meet cultural demands and expectations. She fought hard to remain true to her values but also made the tough decision to put her needs first. In an unforgiving patriarchal society that had (still has) a reach that followed her all the way to the United Kingdom, Buchi was way ahead of her time in the battle for space to grow and for equality. If she was here today, she would be in the trenches not just holding up the banner; “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030,” but actively pushing the barriers that keep popping up in gender parity. Warm and soft, she exuded a strength of character that I admire.

Does story-telling have the power to challenge social injustice?

It does, especially if you believe that our words are powerful – they can make or break a person. We use words to build or destroy and in story-telling we both infuse and extract value. My father told me folk stories told to him by his parents when he was a child. They taught me about both the wise and foolish ways of man and the world. I learnt right from wrong from story-telling. In Africa we have a long tradition of instilling values of social justice through story telling. Sure, stories are told to entertain too but they always have a moral. Story-telling has the power to challenge social injustice and to encourage and nurture people on the importance of social justice in a democratic society.

What book should every girl read?

Definitely Ngaahika Ndeenda ’I Will Marry When I Want’) by Ngugi wa Thiong’o and the late Ngugi wa Mirii. Set in post-colonial Kenya this is a story whose narrative still holds true to some of the struggles post-colonial Africa is still facing. Navigating between tradition, Christianity, holding onto ancestral land and trying to embrace change brought on by urbanisation is an ongoing battle. The simmering tensions of political dissent and social classes still abound. Every girl should read I Will Marry When I Want at the start of their journey in creating a space for themselves in fighting for how resources are shared, decisions are made and where and how they should fit into social justice and governance issues. Every girl should read it and vow never to be invisible but to stand up and be heard.



Hanan al-Shaykh

a_b_hanan-al-shaykh___michael-warWhen did you know that you wanted to be a writer?

My mother left us when I was five years old. I remember every time I would visit her I hid something of mine in her new home, so that the next time I visited I would assure myself that I had been there before and spent time with my mother. One day I stopped doing that, instead, I wrote my feelings and felt happy writing them. I thought; this is what I’d like to do. Write. At sixteen, I started sending articles to the newspaper. I was from a small, conservative neighbourhood and for a girl to be published was a big thing.

How have your experiences as a woman and your experiences as a writer collided?

Being a woman helped me. In Lebanon, I was rebelling against traditions, against my father and what he wanted me to be. I was rebelling against the war as well. It was a man’s war and I was writing about my experiences of war as a woman. This was not common in the Arab world.

A lot of women writers with whom we have worked have faced threats of violence or experienced violence, which is another form of censorship. How do gender roles as perceived in society impact the topics you feel you can write about and what the characters in your books can do? In other words, do you feel that gender roles can restrict writers and what they write about?

It depends on the writer, but I was never restricted. Since I was fourteen, I’ve written whatever I’ve wanted. For example, with The Story of Zahra I couldn’t find a publisher. They thought it was too explicit with rough language and rebellious politics. So I took the manuscript to a friend, who was a children’s publisher, and told her I was going to throw it out the window (in those days you didn’t have photocopies). My friend closed the window and told me, ‘We’re going to publish it, you and me.’ That’s what we did. Now, things have changed, there are many female writers from the Arab world who write about what they want.

Who was the first female character that you read that really inspired you and why?

I was inspired by Huda Sha‘rawi. I read about her life in newspapers. She was the first woman who took off her veil in Egypt. Also, my neighbour, who was a tram conductor and an avid reader, knew I loved books and gave me the first translated book from English to Arabic: Jane Eyre.

I thought to myself, ‘Oh my God, she says she’s not beautiful.’ How amazing! I had never known a character in a book in Arabic to speak that way.

Does story-telling have the power to challenge social injustice?

Definitely. I wrote The Story of Zahra and Beirut Blues about the civil war in Lebanon. When you saw the news, the war was about the fighting, but you never knew how the people felt — the human experience. Literature takes you by the hand and shows you the effect of war on individuals and on humanity. Books can help us understand each other and give us courage.

What book should every girl read?

I love Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson. It’s beautifully written. Also 1001 Nights. The stories are juicy and they throb with humanity. They teach that each person in life has to have the right to live the way they want to live — and to be treated justly.

feb 092017

Dansk PEN arbejder selvstændigt, men formålet er givet i og med, at foreningen er en del af International PEN og dermed forpligtet på organisationens charter, der definerer to hovedopgaver:

– At arbejde for ytringsfriheden overalt i verden, forstået som frihed til at sige, skrive, tegne og på anden måde ytre sig uden at være underlagt censur eller skulle spørge om lov.

– At arbejde for civiliseret omgang mellem nationer, grupper og individer, dvs. at modarbejde og/eller påtale ytringer, hvis primære indhold er had, eller som på anden vis udnytter friheden til at fremme bevidst misinformation.

Arbejdet for ytringsfriheden indebærer ikke en udbredelse af eller en solidarisering med en hvilken som helst ytring, men alene en indsats for retten til at fremsætte ytringer såvel som for retten at kritisere fremsatte ytringer. Arbejdet mod hadefulde og misinformerende ytringer indebærer ikke at hæmme meningsforskelle, men at insistere på og fremme konstruktive og hensynsfulde rammer herfor.

Ytringsfriheden er truet eller ikke-eksisterende i store dele af verden i form af censur eller trusler, der ikke alene kommer fra stater, regeringer og andre myndigheder, men også kan udgå fra enkeltpersoner og grupper i civilsamfundet.

PEN søger størst mulig information om sådanne tilfælde og beslutter i hver enkelt sag, hvilken fremgangsmåde der bedst tjener foreningens overordnede formål (offentlig protest, målrettet appel, henvendelse til egne eller fremmede myndigheder etc).

Arbejdet for fængslede skribenter varetages i International PEN af Writers in Prison Committee; Dansk PEN har sin egen gruppe, som deltager i dette arbejde.

Efter konsultation med International PEN kan Dansk PEN i kortere eller længere perioder vælge at koncentrere indsatsen om bestemte lande eller områder, hvor der er særlig alvorlige problemer, og/eller hvor Dansk PEN eller enkelte af foreningens medlemmer måtte have en særlig viden og særlige forudsætninger. Dansk PEN arbejder endvidere for, at forfulgte skribenter, forfattere og kunstnere kan få ophold i Danmark og udfolde deres talenter her, f.eks. gennem fribyordningen.

I indsatsen mod hate speech vil Dansk PEN frem for alt søge at foregå med et godt eksempel og i særlige tilfælde tage til orde mod udsagn, hvis primære form eller indhold fremmer had og misinformation.

Dansk PEN vil søge den størst mulige offentlighed for sit virke med henblik på at øge forståelsen for vigtigheden af foreningens formål, ikke alene for de grupper, PEN direkte repræsenterer, men for demokratiets vilkår i det hele taget, herunder debatkulturen. Det kan ske gennem pressemeddelelser, kronikker forfattet af foreningen eller enkelte medlemmer, demonstrationer eller på anden vis.

Dansk PEN vil ligeledes arbejde for et bredt samarbejde med andre foreninger om konkrete opgaver, der er forenelige med PENs formål, ligesom med sponsorer, der støtter PENs charter.

nov 172016

img_1418-kirsten-thorupAf Kirsten Thorup


Nu hvid vintersol. Nu kulde og dybfrost. Nu haglbyger af had. Nu hjemsendelseslejre. Nu ingen “pladderhumanisme”. Nu tålt ophold. Nu skrivebordsondskab. Nu den daglige tilvænning. Nu rimtåger af ligegyldighed. Nu ikke mere det landskab jeg kender. Nu uden infrastruktur en fremmed fugl. Nu hjemløs.


Nu ingen afsender. Nu kun modtagere i en virtuel virkelighed. Nu forbrugere, vælgere, børn spist af med bolcheregn af selvvalg. Nu ingen dialog mellem ligeværdige parter. Nu uigennemsigtighed. Nu ingen ansvarlige. Nu politikersprog. Nu fremadrettet. Nu på den lange/korte bane. Nu nødvendighedens politik. Nu resultatmålinger og præstationsledelse. Nu topstyring. Nu overvågning hele tiden overalt i et politisk tomrum. Nu mod dunkle mål der helliger midlet.


Nu 30´erne i en tidssvarende indpakning. Nu strømlinet, administrativ, demokratirigtig, inden for loven. Nu ikke så pøbelfascistisk, udenomsparlamentarisk vulgær. Nu glatbarberet, managementforvaltet, moralistisk, snusfornuftig, husmoderlig, spiselig. Nu løsslupne markedskræfters evige festrus. Nu forvirrede, fordrukne, ufokuserede. Nu sat i verden for at more sig, konsumere, feste, forbruge, mens “fornuftens søvn avler uhyrer”.


Nu drømmen om Krønikesamfundet. Nu hvidvasket. Nu lykkeligst i den bedste af alle verdener. Nu skiftende vinde. Nu en anden virkelighed. Nu trusselsbilleder. Nu ikke længere ro og orden og fremskridtsvenlig hygiejne. Nu smittefarlig fjende i svin og mennesker. Nu ikke mere på sikker afstand. Nu invasion sydfra. Nu bådflygtninge på katastrofekurs mod italienske og græske øer. Nu Middelhavet som massegrav. Nu ikke mere en fredelig plet på kloden. Nu udsigten til at være i samme båd som “de andre”.


Nu ikke mere tryg ejendomsret til ressourcerne og atmosfæren. Nu øjeblikke af rædsel. Nu depression og panikangst. Nu speedball. Nu himmelflugt. Nu kunstigt paradis. Den der ikke bryder sammen, bliver kynisk og stærk. Nu goodbye to all that. Nu rumturisme. Nu markedet i det uendelige.


Nu propaganda. Nu mediebåret hetz. Nu mod muslimer. Nu mod brune og sorte. Nu mod kvinder. Nu mod langtidsledige. Nu mod kontanthjælpsmodtagere. Nu mod førtidspensionister. Nu mod hjemløse EU-borgere. Nu mod ældrebyrden. Nu mod studerende på SU. Nu visitationszoner. Nu lømmelpakke. Nu præventive anholdelser. Nu klimafængsel. Nu politivold.


Nu hjernevask. Nu sorte huller. Nu tretten års krig. Nu krigsliderlig igen. Nu latent undtagelsestilstand. Nu viljen til magt. Nu hukommelsestab. Nu ruling by fear. Nu skruppelløshed. Nu løgnen som tilstand. Nu pragmatisk afskaffelse af godt og ondt. Nu biopolitik. Nu kun “det nøgne liv”.


Nu global opvarmning. Nu forhøjet vandstand i oceanerne. Nu Maldiverne på havets bund. Nu meteorologisk kaos. Nu nedsmeltning af indlandsisen. Nu den politiske klasses forfald. Nu demokratiet blot den styreform, der giver de rige og magtfulde mulighed for at bevare deres magt uden alt for megen vold. Nu fyringer af kritiske offentligt ansatte. Nu whistleblowere bag tremmer. Nu udrensning af samfundsskadelige elementer. Nu kun vindere og tabere. Nu kun rige og fattige. Nu ejes 99% af 1%.


Nu Occupy Wallstreet. Nu Femen. Nu Climate Justice Action. Nu Tahrir-pladsen. Nu Jasminrevolutionen. Nu Pussy Riot. Nu Podemos. Nu Syriza. Nu Maidan-pladsen. Nu Paraplyrevolutionen. Nu Liu Xiaobo. Nu Chen Xi. Nu Gao Zhisheng. Nu Muhamed Bouazizi. Nu Abdulhadi al-Khawaja. Nu Chelsea Manning. Nu Edward Snowdon. Nu Anna Politkovskaja. Nu Aleksej Navalnij. Anastasia Denisova. Nu Raif Badawi. Nu Hanifa Alizada. Nu Asmina Hassani. Nu Asli Erdogan. Nu Ahmet Altan.


Nu Breaking News. Nu terror i Paris. Nu drab på journalister og tegnere. Nu “dem” og “os” i omvendt rækkefølge. Nu historiens hævn. Nu smagen af egen medicin. Nu menneskejagt. Nu gidsler i jødisk supermarked. Nu kriminelle krigere. Nu “Je suis Charlie”. Nu politibeskyttelse af synagoger og moskeer. Nu slumrende terrorceller.  Nu antiterroraktioner i Belgien. Nu Pediga i Dresden. Nu højreekstremisme i Europas hjerte. Nu dødstrusler på sociale medier. Nu ytringsfrihedsfanatikere. Nu mørke midt på dagen. Nu undergangsbelysning. Nu et blafrende “vi” forenden af tunnelen. Nu kun os selv i spejlet.


Nu Next Stop Copenhagen. Nu angreb på “hån, spot og latterliggørelse”. Nu blodig weekend. Nu krigens hjemkomst. Nu uskyldig død. Nu såret politi. Nu Krystalgadenatten. Nu sorgens dag. Nu likvidering af gerningsmand. Nu døgndækning af terror. Nu uden filter. Nu skygger på solsiden. Nu dybere grøfter. Nu ingen Bufferzone. Nu åben og sårbar. Nu erantistæpper i Ørstedsparken. Nu NOT AFRAID. Nu politikere på slap line. Nu et minuts stilhed. Nu et øjebliks sammenhold. Nu efterdønninger. Nu sørgende efterladte i mediernes søgelys. Nu Islamisk Stat. Nu horrorvideoer. Nu øget beredskab. Nu wake-up call uden selvransagelse. Nu fokus på bandemiljøer. Nu afradikalisering. Nu “den anden” tæt på. Nu i sync med nutiden.


Nu virkeligheden i overhalingsbanen. Nu folkevandring op gennem Europa. Nu over alle grænser. Nu flygtningestrømme på motorvejene mod Sverige. Nu transitland. Nu ikke længere “Danmark dejligst”. Nu statsministeren taget på sengen. Nu kaos på Christiansborg. Nu hjælpsomhed. Nu Venligboerne. Nu skeen i den anden hånd. Nu mad og drikke. Nu tøj og transport. Nu civilsamfundets orden on the ground. Nu civil ulydighed i rutefart over Øresund. Nu skingre DF-røster. Nu godhedsflashere. Nu landsforrædere. Nu skræmmekampagne i libanesiske aviser. Nu igen stramning af udlændingelovene. Nu konfiskering af smykker og kontanter. Nu hemmeligholdt brev fra Ban Ki-moon. Nu familiesammenføring under pres. Nu forsvundne uledsagede mindreårige. Nu kriminalisering af afviste asylansøgere. Nu flygtninge under jorden. Nu private vagtværn. Nu grænsekontrol mod syd og øst. Nu ingen fri bevægelighed. Nu uskøn alliance. Nu Erdogan som Fort Europas dørmand. Nu “vestlige værdier” suspenderet.


Nu 15. juli kl. 22. Nu mislykket kupforsøg. Nu krigsfly i luften. Nu tanks i hovedstaden. Nu sms-massemobilisering. Nu præsidentens loyale “Folk” på gaden. Nu menige soldater fladt på maven. Nu generaler i eksil. Nu Gülen udpeget som bagmand. Nu undtagelsestilstand. Nu retssystemet sat ud af kraft. Nu massearrestationer. Nu 35.000 tyrkiske borgere i varetægtsfængsel. Nu som mistænkte Gülen-sympatisører. Nu skolelærere og universitetsfolk frataget deres pas. Nu intelligensiaen i lænker. Nu ingen adskillelse af den politiske og dømmende magt. Nu uafhængige dommere på flugt fra isolationsfængsel. Nu totalitært enmandsstyre. Nu 105.000 offentlige ansatte afskediget. Nu lukning af uafhængige medier. Nu redaktører og journalister tilbageholdt. Nu 370 miljø- kultur- og menneskerettighedsorganisationer lukket. Nu kurdiske parlamentsmedlemmer arresteret. Nu retsstatens endeligt. Nu EU på kattepoter. Nu vores slyngel.


Nu det arabiske forår på stand-by. Nu 5 års borgerkrig. Nu bødlen fra Damaskus. Nu verdens ligegyldighed. Nu Putins momentum. Nu belejring af Aleppo. Nu krigsforbrydelser. Nu syrisk apokalypse. Nu kun 35 læger til 250.000 indbyggere. Nu løbet tør for mad og medicin. Nu uden rent vand. Nu skoler og hospitaler russiske bombemål. Nu kun skeletter tilbage af udbombede boligkvarterer. Nu hele familier udslettet. Nu børn begravet under murbrokkerne. Nu døde eller levende. Nu De Hvide Hjelme. Nu heltemod. Nu fredsforhandlinger i Geneve. Nu stedfortræderkrig. Nu stormagternes gambling. Nu videre til Mosul. Nu igen danske jagerfly på vingerne. Nu våbenindustriens pengemaskine. Nu dødens købmænd. Nu krigen uden ende.


Nu i populismens tegn. Nu ikke længere befolkning og medborgere. Nu kun det rigtige/sande “Folk” legitimt. Nu ingen argumenter. Nu dæmonisering af anderledestænkende. Nu reduceret til smagsdommere og politisk korrekte. Nu mistænkeliggørelse af viden og indsigt. Nu “Folket” som demagogisk værktøj. Nu løftestang til magten. Nu løgnen som stemmesluger. Nu fornemmelsen af jordskred. Nu på gyngende grund. Nu det repræsentative demokrati i opløsning. Nu en parentes i historien. Nu antipluralisme. Nu totalitære understrømme. Nu nationalismens genfærd. Nu Brexit. Nu UKIP. Nu DF. Nu Marine Le Pen. Nu Orban. Nu Geert Wilders. Nu vulkanen i udbrud på den anden side af Atlanten. Nu politik som underholdning. Nu stand-up i guldelevatoren. Nu vredens triumf. Nu Den stærke mands magtovertagelse i “Folkets” navn. Nu meningsmålingernes fallit. Nu ingen sikker viden. Nu White Power i Det Hvide Hus. Nu mareridt over prærien. Nu tilbage til fortidens faderhus. Nu kun begyndelsen.

Digtet blev fremført af forfatteren som en del af Dansk PENs Frie Ord-program på BogForum 2016

nov 102016

ord_paa_flugt_omslagOrd på flugt, er en antologi med bidrag af forfattere og journalister, der over tid og kontinenter, på forskellig vis, har en flugthistorie med i bagagen.
Forfatterne har det til fælles, at de alle har - eller har haft - tilknytning til Danmark.

Køb den direkte fra Dansk PENs sekretariat eller i din lokale boghandel.

Pris 150 kr.

Tidligere er udkommet:
Spejlinger, med bidrag af nordiske og arabiske forfattere samt
Mælk og Sukker, noveller af afghanske og danske kvindelige forfattere.

nov 032016

Dansk PEN vender sig mod enhver gradbøjning af ytringsfriheden, som denne er fastslået i Grundlovens § 77, der ikke alene udelukker censur, men også ”andre forebyggende foranstaltninger”. Ganske særlig vender vi os imod at udpege særlige grupper eller personer som mindre værdige til at nyde ytringsfrihed end andre. Grundlovens § 77 taler tillige om ”ansvar over for domstolene”. Den eksisterende lovgivning er fuldt ud tilstrækkelig til at efterforske og evt. retsforfølge ytringer, som måtte være lovstridige, f.eks. opfordringer til vold. Men lovgivningen rækker ikke, og må aldrig række, til at kriminalisere ytringer, man ikke bryder sig om.

Læs Dansk PENs høringssvar til Justitsministeriet her:


nov 032016
  1. Enhver har ret til at udtrykke sig frit på de digitale medier, uden at skulle frygte repressalier eller forfølgelse.
  2. Enhver har ret til at søge og modtage informationer gennem de digitale medier.
  3. Enhver har ret til at være fri for statslig overvågning på de digitale medier.
  4. Den private sektor, og i særdeleshed virksomheder der arbejder med teknologi, har pligt til at respektere menneskerettighederne og retten til ytringsfrihed.

Den fulde tekst kan læses her:


nov 012016

Mælk og sukker. En antologi med noveller af danske og afghanske kvindelige forfattere (2015)

Alle Dansk PENs udgivelser kan bestilles i boghandlerne eller ved henvendelse til sekretariatet.


Spejlinger, en antologi med bidrag af nordiske og arabiske forfattere (2012)


1000 piskeslag fordi jeg siger hvad jeg tænker. Tekster af den fængslede saudiarabiske blogger Raif Badawi












Herfra min verden går. Antologi med bidrag af herboende, flersprogede forfattere (2009)












Hate Speech, fra hadetale til hadesyn. En samling tekster om hadetale og ytringsfrihed. Debat (2013)













Profet-affæren, Et PEN-dossier om 12 Muhammed-tegninger - og hvad der siden hændte. Dokumenter og argumenter (2006)

nov 012016

En omfattende, global overvågning og spionage rettet mod både stater og borgere, blev i 2013 afsløret af den amerikanske whistleblower Edward Snowden. Hans afsløringer af masseovervågning af både telefoner og på internettet udført af USA og Five Eyes Alliancen repræsenterer en af de vigtigste begivenheder i international politik i de seneste år og peger samtidig på en alvorlig legitimitetskrise i udenrigs- og sikkerhedspolitikken. Afsløringerne markerer desuden et tillidsbrud på internettets neutralitet.

Til trods for disse kendsgerninger, er Edward Snowdens sag ikke blevet genstand for juridisk handling på det principielle niveau fra de amerikanske myndigheder, selvom hovedparten af den metadata der er indsamlet i USA i 2015 er blevet kendte ulovlig af den amerikanske appelret. I stedet har de amerikanske myndigheder anklaget Mr. Snowden for spionage og tyveri af statens ejendom, og har anmodet om, at han udleveres fra Rusland, hvor han nu bor i eksil. De har ikke taget hensyn til den internationale debat om retslig beskyttelse af informanter i international ret. Han risikerer en livstidsdom, hvis han vender tilbage til USA. En stadigt voksende kampagne opfordrer præsident Obama til at benåde Snowden før han forlader præsidentembedet.

I respekt for Edward Snowdens modige og unikke arbejde som whistleblower, har norsk PEN tildelt ham Ossietzky Prisen i 2016 for hans fremragende arbejde for ytringsfriheden. Norsk PEN har også bedt norske myndigheder til at garantere hans sikkerhed, hvis han vælger at komme til Norge for at deltage i prisoverrækkelsen den 18. november 2016.

For lovligt at fastslå, at Norge ikke har ret til at udlevere Snowden til USA, har Snowden og Norsk PEN indgivet en fælles anklage mod den norske stat, og det norske Justitsministerium. Statsadvokaten har afvist anklagen af formelle grunde. Staten har anført, at sagen skal behandles i overensstemmelse med strafferetsplejen og sagsøgers civile søgsmål kan af formelle grunde ikke igangsættes.

Det faktum, at den norske stat forsøger at undgå en retslig afprøvning af loven om udlevering af formelle grunde og dermed Edward Snowdens sikre adgang til landet, bekræfter vigtigheden af denne sag fra en ytringsfrihed perspektiv. Rettens afgørelse er blevet anket.

De delegerede på International PENs 82. verdenskongres i Ourense, Galicien (Spanien), 26 september - 2 oktober 2016:

  • opfordrer alle regeringer til at styrke den retlige beskyttelse af whistle blowere for at bringe de nationale lovgivninger i overensstemmelse med internationale juridiske standarder, herunder artikel 12 i Verdenserklæringen om Menneskerettigheder, artikel 17 i den Internationale konvention om borgerlige og politiske rettigheder;
  • opfordrer indtrængende regeringen i USA til at rette sig efter afgørelsen fra appeldomstolen og anerkende Edward Snowdens status som whistleblower og menneskerettighedsforkæmper;
  • opfordrer præsident Obama til at overveje at udstede en præsidentkandidat direktiv til den amerikanske justitsminister om at afvise anklagerne mod Snowden inden han forlader præsidentembedet;
  • opfordrer indtrængende de norske myndigheder til at garantere at Edward Snowden sikkert kan rejse til Norge for at modtage Ossietzky prisen i Oslo den 18. november 2016;
  • opfordrer myndighederne i de europæiske lande til at overveje at tildele Edward Snowden muligheden for at søge asyl i overensstemmelse med artikel 10 i Den europæiske konvention om Menneskerettigheder og de grundlæggende frihedsrettigheder og i overensstemmelse med Europa parlamentets resolution vedr. dette spørgsmål fra oktober 2015.


okt 282016

asli-erdogan Dansk PEN laver et støttearrangement for vores tyrkiske kolleger på Store Scene på Bogforum.

Det sker på åbningsdagen: Fredag den 11. november kl. 13:30.

Her vil en række danske forfattere oplæse tekster af fængslede, tyrkiske forfattere, og der vil blive spillet tyrkiske musik.

Vi har valgt to tyrkiske forfattere, der blev fængslet i forbindelse med undtagelsestilstanden i Tyrkiet efter det mislykkede militærkup i juli i år. Præsident Erdogan har udnyttet situationen til at forfølge politiske fjender og kritikere af hans politik. Det har ramt medier, akademikere og især journalister og forfattere.

To af disse er dansk PENs æresmedlem Asli Erdogan og forfatter og redaktør Ahmet Altan. Begge prisbelønnede og kendte skribenter i Tyrkiet.

ahmet-altan-008Tekster af Ahmet Altan og Asli Erdogan læses op af Kirsten Thorup, Hanne Marie Svenden, Anne Marie Ejrnæs, Jens Christian Grøndahl, Benn Q. Holm og Søren Ulrik Thomsen.


okt 282016

Dansk PEN er også i år på Bogforum i Bella Centret med taler af kendte forfattere, journalister, debattører og andre med noget på hjerte.

FRIE ORD på Dansk PENs stand hver time - klokken kvart i hel - weekenden igennem.

Fredag 11. november

12:45 Matthias Bjørnlund

13:45 Trisse Gejl

14:45 Kirsten Thorup

15:45 Adam Holm

16:45 Anders Jerichow

Lørdag 12. november

12:45 Pia Friis Laneth

13:45 Klaus Rothstein

14:45 Merete Pryds Helle

15:45 Olav Hergel

16:45 Johannes Riis

Søndag 13. november

12:45 Hans Gammeltoft-Hansen

13:45 Morten Søndergaard

14:45 Lone Frank

15:45 Geeti Amiri

16:45 Kristina Stoltz